We spend our lives striving, reaching, doing. We do everything we can to be better, more productive, more successful. We bust our tails to make life better for our families, where better means more money, less worry, more stuff.
And the search for better begins to consume us. We spend more and more time forcing our dreams, trying harder and harder to get there–wherever there is–faster and faster. We spend more and more time away from the people who love us, getting more and more exhausted, chasing our tails in faster and faster circles, thinking if I can just… catch… it… everything will be OK.
We know we’re running ourselves ragged, but we figure we can make it right later. Because right now, there are bills to pay, debts to get rid of, appliances to replace. How can we stop when there’s so much still undone? When the dream is still right there, just out of reach, ready to fall if we can just force ourselves to grab it?
Then it all comes to a screeching halt. We look around and realize it isn’t enough. It will never be enough. Because happiness, contentment, satisfaction–there’s no place in the plan for those. They’re supposed to spring fully formed into our lives when we get there. There’s been no time for fluffy stuff while we were busy forcing the dream.
And for a day, or a week, or an hour, life falls silent. The only sound is the thudding of our heartbeat in our ears. And finally, we make our decision.
My biggest failure is constantly demanding more. I’ve forgotten to be happy with the life I have. Which, as it turns out, is a pretty good one: my wife and I love each other, our kids are shaping up well, we have enough money most of the time, the cars run well.
So it’s time to take a terrifying step: I’m learning to be happy. And it scares the stuffing out of me. How will I know the difference between happiness and complacency? How can I be satisfied with my life and still work to make it better? How do I keep from waking up one day and realizing I’ve accomplished nothing with the years I spent being happy?
I don’t know the answers. But it’s time to find out. One day at a time. One contented, courageous, joyful day at a time. And the good news is: I’ve got some great teammates to help me.
Have you learned how to be happy? How do you do it?